High school football: Maine South guts out defensive battle to knock off top-ranked Warren

Maine South’s fans went wild after the No. 11 Hawks knocked off top-ranked Warren 10-2 on Friday in Gurnee. There was confetti, a shirtless student streaking around the field with a Maine South flag and some loud parking lot celebrations.

The actual football players were more subdued. Dave Inserra’s program expects a lot more than Week 2 non conference road wins. And clearly, no one knows who the best team in the area is yet.

“They were number one, but it is early,” Maine South senior Tommy Locascio said. “We have to stay the course and focus on what is next. We will celebrate this and we are happy about this but have to keep moving on.”

Locascio made the play of the game. He grabbed an interception in the corner of the end zone in the final minute of the first half and scampered 54 yards on the return.

The Hawks (2-0) capitalized on the next play. Senior quarterback Rowan Keefe connected with Mike Sajenko on a 46-yard touchdown.

“I went deep and saw the ball up in the air,” Locascio said. “I knew I had a chance to make a play. As soon as I caught it I saw the open space on the sideline and knew I had to hit it to give our team a chance to make something happen and that’s exactly what we did.”

Sam Taglia’s 39-yard field goal with 2:02 to play was the only scoring in the second half. It put Maine South up 10-2.

Warren running back Maurice Edwards, a Vanderbilt recruit, had 29 carries for 127 yards but the Blue Devils (1-1) never managed to get close enough to the end zone for him to punch in a touchdown.

“It was a team effort on defense,” Inserra said. “I’m really proud of the defense. We limited probably the best running back we are going to see. We just had to limit him, we weren’t going to stop him. Right from the very first play it was a team effort.”

Keefe was 12-for-27 for 167 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but are impressive considering the opposition.

“That won’t be the last time we see them,” Keefe said. “They have athletes everywhere and the speed is incredible. But our offensive line played amazing.”

The Hawks had -22 yards rushing, although most of that came on quarterback scrambles and sacks. Maine South didn’t attempt to do anything on the ground. Warren’s defense is one of the state’s best.

“They were as advertised on defense,” Inserra said. “They have a championship defense. We will see them in the playoffs at some point.”

Warren quarterback Aidan Lucero valiantly attempted to make some things happen throughout the game, but couldn’t get a big play to click. He was 8 of 21 for 48 yards with two interceptions.

“Maine South did a great job,” Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. “We need to kind of copy their model. When you see a Maine South team early in the year it isn’t the same team in Week 10. They are a lot better. We have to kind of lick our wounds here and come back.”

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